Keeping the host alive - Lessons from obligate intracellular bacterial pathogens

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Mammals have evolved sophisticated host cell death signaling pathways as an important immune mechanism to recognize and eliminate cell intruders before they establish their replicative niche. However, intracellular bacterial pathogens that have co-evolved with their host have developed a multitude of tactics to counteract this defense strategy to facilitate their survival and replication. This requires manipulation of pro-death and pro-survival host signaling pathways during infection. Obligate intracellular bacterial pathogens are organisms that absolutely require an eukaryotic host to survive and replicate, and therefore they have developed virulence factors to prevent diverse forms of host cell death and conserve their replicative niche. This review encapsulates our current understanding of these host-pathogen interactions by exploring the most relevant findings of Anaplasma spp., Chlamydia spp., Rickettsia spp. and Coxiella burnetii modulating host cell death pathways. A detailed comprehension of the molecular mechanisms through which these obligate intracellular pathogens manipulate regulated host cell death will not only increase the current understanding of these difficult-to-study pathogens but also provide insights into new tools to study regulated cell death and the development of new therapeutic approaches to control infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberftab052
Number of pages15
JournalPathogens and Disease
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • anaplasma
  • Chlamydia
  • Coxiella burnetii
  • obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen
  • regulated cell death
  • rickettsia

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